We began day three a bit bleary eyed from having been accosted by mosquitos all the previous night. There really is nothing like being inside a mosquito net while the mosquitos hover around, banging up against the net. Like being in a shark cage, but a bit less conscious.
We packed up and sped out of Jafuta and Vic Falls, intent on buying food in Hwange (Rhodies often pronounce this “Wanky”), and possibly refueling there. We arrived in Hwange town and promptly discovered that the local supermarkets weren’t open; “No ZESA!” which means no electricity (ZESA is the sole electric company for the country). No electric means no computer cash registers (“tills”) and no lights. Also no refrigeration. We waited around with the crowd of would-be shoppers for the doors to open for a while. The kids became restless. All we needed was some pasta at the very least, as our next destination had cooking facilities (the term is “self catering”).
Leaving Jean and the girls behind, Dad, Lucas and I drove a bit further, looking for another supermarket that was open. We found one, and got some basic supplies, though still no pasta or sausages. We returned, still the first supermarket had not opened. Word on the street was someone was trying to find a generator repairman, for indeed they had a generator. Again, Dad and Lucas, and now Laura, and I pushed off, driving further still, finding a supermarket with some bread. We planned on grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner. We swung back around to get Mom and Jean and the girls, and fuel. Whoops, still no power, the electric pumps cannot function. For a country with such power issues, it’s amazing businesses still rely on electricity so much.
We made a short stop at the Painted Dog Sanctuary.
We just made the 2pm cut-off for entry (after 2pm, one doesn’t stand much of a chance to make it to a camp before dark, which could be bad with lions). After paying our entry fees we drove another 120 kilometers through the park, endeavouring to do a game drive. It was quite uneventful, unfortunately, the most exciting thing we saw were some bubbles and perhaps the snout of a hippo, and a few elephants. We also saw some emaciated carcasses of dead elephants, which we heard are typically ones that have starved. Unfortunately, the practice had been to artificially create or maintain water holes in order to attract the elephants and increase tourist traffic, though that contributed to a rise in population. Ultimately the government stopped providing money for out of season watering, and in the height of dry season, one can see many dead or dying elephants in the park.
We made our way up a ridge to Sinamatella Camp, and checked into two aging, quaint lodges. Fortunately the ZESA was with us, enabling me to dish up some grilled cheese sandwiches (we’d brought cheese in the cooler, some ham too). We feasted on box wine and grilled cheese, overlooking wandering herds of elephants far below, the sun painting a collage of pastels as a backdrop. The wind kicked up and signaled a storm coming in, and we took the opportunity to bathe the children. Our ceiling fans blew away any mosquitos that may have assailed our nets that evening. A thunderstorm ripped its way across the low veld, but only woke us occasionally.